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Stockton Fire Dept. hiring, as union wage negotiations continue

As negotiations continue between the Stockton Fire Department and the firefighter’s union for a new agreement, the department is working to fill more than a dozen open positions. Stockton Fire Chief Richard Edwards has 183 sworn positions in his department and said he is currently facing 14 vacancies.”We’ve had a fair share of resignations over the last 5 or 6 months,” he told KCRA 3 on Monday.He said firefighters are having to work more hours in the meantime.He believes his department is “one of the busiest” in the United States. Last year, the department responded to almost 60,000 calls for service from 12 firehouses, Chief Edwards said. Routinely, the department responds to one to two building fires a day.He said his staffing struggles are not unique, and that retirements and career changes are partly to blame.”It’s been very difficult and it’s been something that I think is affecting local governments all across California,” he explained. “Especially the fire departments, especially in the specialized ranks.”Although there are 14 vacancies right now, the future is uncertain.According to the chief, around 35 people are currently eligible for retirement. That number is expected to more than double in the next 24 to 36 months.Union leaders tell KCRA 3 that increasing wages will help hire new firefighters and retain people already working in the department.”Right now we’re at least 20% below-market on all our ranks… on our comparable cities,” said Richard Diaz, an executive board member.Places like Sacramento, Modesto, Tracy and the Bay Area.Diaz said Stockton Fire has recently lost firefighters to departments in Mountain View, Oakland and Hayward. According to his data, the department has lost 10 staff members so far this year. He said that’s more than normal.”I think the message of the union over is just to be competitive,” the Stockton native told KCRA 3. “I can’t stress enough we enjoy this city, we enjoy working for this department. We just want to be able to do that effectively and safely.”Fire Chief Edwards told KCRA 3 that his department’s memorandum of understanding with Stockton Professional Firefighters Local 456 expires on June 30. He hopes to fill the 14 vacancies soon with people in the interview process for the next fire academy.Chief Edwards said he is thankful for his firefighters’ sacrifices as he works to fill positions.

As negotiations continue between the Stockton Fire Department and the firefighter’s union for a new agreement, the department is working to fill more than a dozen open positions.

Stockton Fire Chief Richard Edwards has 183 sworn positions in his department and said he is currently facing 14 vacancies.

“We’ve had a fair share of resignations over the last 5 or 6 months,” he told KCRA 3 on Monday.

He said firefighters are having to work more hours in the meantime.

He believes his department is “one of the busiest” in the United States.

Last year, the department responded to almost 60,000 calls for service from 12 firehouses, Chief Edwards said. Routinely, the department responds to one to two building fires a day.

He said his staffing struggles are not unique, and that retirements and career changes are partly to blame.

“It’s been very difficult and it’s been something that I think is affecting local governments all across California,” he explained. “Especially the fire departments, especially in the specialized ranks.”

Although there are 14 vacancies right now, the future is uncertain.

According to the chief, around 35 people are currently eligible for retirement. That number is expected to more than double in the next 24 to 36 months.

Union leaders tell KCRA 3 that increasing wages will help hire new firefighters and retain people already working in the department.

“Right now we’re at least 20% below-market on all our ranks… on our comparable cities,” said Richard Diaz, an executive board member.

Places like Sacramento, Modesto, Tracy and the Bay Area.

Diaz said Stockton Fire has recently lost firefighters to departments in Mountain View, Oakland and Hayward.

According to his data, the department has lost 10 staff members so far this year. He said that’s more than normal.

“I think the message of the union over is just to be competitive,” the Stockton native told KCRA 3. “I can’t stress enough we enjoy this city, we enjoy working for this department. We just want to be able to do that effectively and safely.”

Fire Chief Edwards told KCRA 3 that his department’s memorandum of understanding with Stockton Professional Firefighters Local 456 expires on June 30.

He hopes to fill the 14 vacancies soon with people in the interview process for the next fire academy.

Chief Edwards said he is thankful for his firefighters’ sacrifices as he works to fill positions.

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